travel nursing

How to Be Lonely

As soon as I drove away from my sister’s house, I realized something. I knew I’d be driving for about 8 hours straight to my first travel nurse assignment. I knew it was going to be a long, multiple day drive. I knew I was going to be bored. But I realized I was about to be profoundly lonely. Huh, I thought, I wonder how I’ll handle it. 

Not well is the answer to that question.

My first night alone in college, I bawled my eyes out. My first night alone in my first solo apartment after college, I bawled my eyes out. For at least a collective two hours during my solo road trip to Connecticut, I did the same thing. I bawled my eyes out and could not stop. At one point, I probably should have pulled over because I was crying so hard that I could barely see.

Crying is not a horrible thing. It’s usually a sign that I’m finally getting to a place where I’m starting to accept things in my past, present, or future that I do not necessarily like. It’s messy, however.

I think we have a tendency to avoid being alone. No one likes to feel isolated, for one, and for two, silence allows us to hear things voices we suppress. We hear voices of doubt, regret, fear, and much, much more.

Too, being alone makes me miss my family and friends like crazy. Sometimes, I don’t even want to talk to them because I’m afraid it’ll just make me miss them more. I’m learning to appreciate those phone calls and Skype dates and to remind myself of them when I feel quite alone.

Loneliness doesn’t every go away though. People pass away, we have to go into work and leave our family at home, people move away and move on. Loneliness won’t get any easier, so I want to embrace it now while it’s manageable.

I want to learn how to be alone, lonely, and not fall apart.

So, I turned to Google (because, when in doubt, Google it, ifyaknowwhatimean). Basically, the various articles said distract yourself with pets and activities and whatever else. Distraction doesn’t fix loneliness. It’s just a temporary relief. As soon as the distraction is gone, the loneliness is still there. How do I be lonely?

I’m learning that when I hear those voices, those voices that tell me I’m not good enough, that I messed up so horribly in the past that nothing in the future can fix it, that everyone else has what I want, that only bad things are ahead of me, I breathe.

Really, that’s all I do. I take a deep breath.

I take in everything I’m feeling and thinking on the inhale, and forgive myself of my past, present, and future mistakes on the exhale. I take all the hurt on the inhale, and forgive the people and situations that have caused me pain on the exhale. I do that for as many times as I need, for whatever situation I need, and the quiet isn’t so bad anymore.

Your harshest critic is yourself, and the hardest person to forgive is yourself. As scary as being alone and lonely in the quiet is, that time allows you to experience yourself. To be reflective, undistracted, and compassionate to yourself, I think, is how to really be lonely. We’ll see what I learn.

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